Tales of a Fearless Eater

Gene Weingarten
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 28, 1999; 9:31 AM

I have eaten chicken feet.

I have eaten raw shrimp.

I have eaten marsh hare, which I thought was rabbit but discovered was muskrat.

I have eaten pigeon and jellyfish and octopus and squirrel and ox and turtle and snail and snake.

I became aggressively adventurous in dining when I was 13. I went with my older brother to a Chinese restaurant, a real Chinese restaurant in New York's Chinatown, with real Chinese people eating there. Hot tea was served in water glasses, with flakes swirling on the bottom; to me, this seemed an impressive touch of the exotic Orient. We ordered chow mein, or some other damn thing. All the time, I couldn't take my eyes off a Chinese family at a table in the center of the room. They were all picking at the same dish, a giant, steaming soup made from what appeared to be fishheads. I craned my neck. Yep. Fishheads.

I have eaten bull testicles.

I have eaten shark fins.

I have eaten alligator and goat and buffalo and spicy kangaroo jerky.

I have eaten a preserved Asian duck egg so old its insides were black paste.

I have eaten raw beef and raw lamb and raw lobster and raw scallop and raw mackerel.

There was no fishhead soup on the menu. So I summoned the waiter and asked him to identify the dish the Chinese family was eating. He misunderstood the question, and thought I was ordering it.

I have eaten tripe.

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